Child care is increasingly needed in a society where both parents work. There are a variety of options in Paris to fit all needs. Always research your options carefully before leaving your child with someone else.
It is important to find a facility that works for you and your child. Some factors to consider:
Meeting local moms is a great way to determine availability and options. Meet at a park, playground, or try online forums like Easy Expat's Paris forum and networks. Check information on local crèches in your area at the local mairie of arrondissement (town hall).
Parents can send their babies to both publicly and privately run crèches(nurseries). Care is commonly available starting at three months old (the end of the average maternity leave). Be sure to visit different care facilities to find one that works for you. These options cover children before the age of six when school is mandatory.
Nurseries are run by a team of staff with activities planned for entertainment and education. This is also a place for children to make friends outside the home and learn new social skills. French public nurseries and daycare centers are funded by local and regional authorities and by means-tested parental fees. Most are open 11 hours a day, but close for one month for summer break. Staff must meet strict standards of training and are required to hold a childcare diploma.
Public nursery school, or école maternelle, is another option for children starting at two/three years old. This may be dependent on completed potty-training, etc.). In addition to care, they teach a state-mandated curriculum.
Maternelles are state-funded (free), but they do not guarantee placement. If you find a school that fits your need, register as soon as possible. School days include three hours in the morning and three in the evening. Parents are often allowed to pick up their children for lunch break. Lunch service may be an additional fee.
Crèches parentales are nurseries run by parent associations. These nurseries employ qualified assistantes maternelles who are licensed by the mairie (town hall). These organizations are non-profit. Parents pay an equal share of the costs, and often provide food and equipment. They may also play a part in nursery management.
Different facilities have different prices, but in general you should expect to pay €300 to 400 a month, per child with subsided care. Prices in Paris are high but you get tax break and allowance from the state (more information on http://www.paris-servicesfamilles.com.fr). When you have been living in Paris for more than 3 years, you may get the Allocation Paris Petit à Domicile (PAPADO). If you employ a nanny or share-care, you can deduct 50% of the cost. Ecoles maternelles are free.
Babysitter's are generally employed on a temporary or short-term basis. Often a friend of the family or relative is employed for an evening to watch over the child at the parents's residence. Usually young women are the babysitter's and may offer their services as a business. A babysitter should have civil liability insurance and the babysitter's parents must be informed if the person is a minor. Only baby-sitters aged 15 or more can ask for payment.
The cost of care provided by a babysitter is usually slightly lower than the equivalent cost of a nursery. Expect to pay about €6-12 euro per hour, per kid. With friends and family, there is not a standard payment. It will be up to you and the babysitter to negotiate a reasonable rate.
Most families find a babysitter by word-of-mouth, letting friends and family know that they are looking. Parents may also try posting on bulletin boards at community centers, grocery stores, or expat hang-outs.
A great on-line resource is to post on expat classified's, like on Easy Expat's babysitter search.
Other popular sites in which to find babysitter's and childcare are:
For permanent babysitting, you may look at an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".